Old Music Monthly #032 [April 1996]

Old Music Monthly #032: April 1996

The Cover

Hey, it’s Oasis. Yawn. The article just recounts their in-fighting, and offers nothing new.

The Letters

Lots of griping this week, LOTS.

Quick Fix

Here, read about Bandit Queen. There will be a quiz later. They pushed hard in this issue, and then never, ever heard from again.

In My Room

Tours We’d Like To See

Weird Record of the Month / Promo Item of the Month

No sense in splitting this one

Mix Tape!

Fire up your fax machines!

Best New Music

Reviews

The Genres

A lot of mention here. This is a good Prong record. Also, Handsome alert!! But this blurb about Sepultura may be where I decided to give them a chance. Yes, Mike Patton, but I thought them recording with an indigenous tribe was really awesome.

The Score was so good… when it wasn’t bogged down in skits and Wyclef Jean’s nonsense. Reminds me of this time I went to a friend’s graduation party, and his uncle was in the basement playing pool and listening to “Killing Me Softly” about 14,000 times.

Multi-Media

Do people still talk about Cemetery Man?

Top 75

The Amps move down to lucky #13. I’m surprised Ruby is so high at #4, since they seem to be largely forgotten. How many did you own?

Multi-Media

Localzine

I don’t know who Douglas P. Mosurak is, but he was part of something called Creta Bourzia. Anyway, he’s going to be our guide through Pittsburgh.

Without further delay, the CD:

Idaho – Pomegranate Bleeding

We talked briefly about Idaho all the way back in the first installment, aptly titles #001.

This is from Idaho’s third record, Three Sheets to the Wind, released in 1996 of course. The album didn’t sell well, which Wikipedia claims is the reason they got dropped, but everyone got dropped from Caroline in 1997 anyway. This song it just a bleh, plodding song.

We’ll see Idaho again in the far off year of 2002. (-)

Cracker – I Hate My Generation

Cracker made their first appearance back in #025.

This is the opening track from the groups third album, The Golden Age, whish wasn’t greatly received. I don’t hate this song, but it kind of feels like a too-late cynical cash-grab, aiming for the cynical Gen-X crowd… but grunge was already near dead. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s not cynical, maybe it’s self aware. (+)

Cowboy Junkies – Speaking Confidentially

We last discussed these Canadians back in #005.

I definitely did not save this one back in the day, but at some point, this played on repeat someplace that I worked. I suppose I have some Stockholm Syndrome with it, but I find the vocals very pleasant and comfortable.

We’ll visit with Cowboy Junkies again in 2001. (+)

Jonny Polonsky – Love Lovely Love

Polonsky started making tapes at home in the suburbs of Chicago, and one of these tapes made its way to guitarist Marc Ribot (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits). Ribot passed the tape onto John Zorn, who intived Polonsky to his Jewish Music Festival in 1992. Frank Black became a fan, and produced the demo that got Polonsky signed to American Recordings. Black was producing the album, but it got scrapped, and Polonsky just recorded his debut in his childhood home. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I kind of like it and I kind of hate it. I like most of the elements, but as a whole, it just doesn’t move me. I’ve listened to it three times, and I just have no opinion even though I know I should like it.

After the album, Polonsky opened for Frank Black and played the second stage at Lollapalooza 1996. Then, the just fucked off for a while, I guess. He started touring again in the late 90s, and released his second album in 2004. He’s also appeared on albums by Tom Morella, Puscifer, Johnny Cash, and Minnie Driver. (-)

Triple Fast Action – Never Never Care

Here we have a “Nirvana Meets Cheap Trick” group from Chicago… and that’s a pretty apt description.  Wes Kidd (Vocals and guitar), Brian St. Clair (drums), Ronnie Schneider (guitar), and Kevin Tihista (bass) formed in 1995 and by 1996, they had their debut (Broadcaster) out on Capitol Records.

I didn’t save this one back in the day, I might’ve thought they sounded too close to Nirvana? It’s hard to say. Overall, they sound pretty good. I might even explore them further.

As you might expect, the band and Capitol parted ways. They released a second album in 1997, but split by 1998. During their short tenure, Local H’s Scott Lucas filled in on guitar for Schneider sometimes. After the split, Kidd went on to have a career as a record producer and a road manager. St. Clair drummed for My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Local H, before becoming a road manager. Tihista went on to play with Veruca Salt, but was kicked to the curb after their original line up reunion. (+)

Hollowbodies – d Day

This is a good name for a band. That’s it. That’s the post.

Ok, fine. Hollowbodies started as a duo from Virginia Beach, and then self-released their debut, Lame. Everything I find only says that they play “folk-rock in the style of Tom Petty”,  which I don’t really get that here. But everything also says they made great strides forward with their second album in 1997. Then, I realized I had been reading up on two different bands with the same name. But even Discogs was fooled and has both bands merged into a single discography.

It appears that the Hollowbodies on this disc ended sometimes after 1997. (-)

Ammonia – Drugs

This Australian band started as Fuzzswirl, but changed their name to Ammonia after new bassist Simon Hensworth “stumbled across the word in a science textbook”. Ok, what was he doing reading a science textbook, and he had never heard of it in cleaning supplies or cat piss?

The band would be the first to sign to Sony’s Murmur label (Silverchair would be second), releasing two EPs ahead of their debut album, Mint 400, which was out in October 1995. In Australia it was pretty successful, the album peaked at number 15, but I don’t think it did much in the States. I have zero recollection of it… I take that back, we used to make fun of this song all the time. It starts pretty promising, but the way he hits “there’s nothIN’” has brought us many a laugh.

The band released a second album, but folded after their final show at Australia’s Big Day Out 1999. Singer / guitarist Dave Johnstone returned to playing live music in 2021. (-)

Maria McKee – This Perfect Dress

Maria McKee for her start playing in L.A. cow-punk band Lone Justice, but they split in 1987 and McKee went solo. She had a career songwriting and singing back up for a number of artists including U2 and Counting Crows.

I actually expected to hate this, but that guitar and her vocal delivery are really great. I am not likely to track down other songs, but this one is a winner.

She is still making music today. Since this had come out, she has also been a film maker and a published author, as well as being an advocate for queer and transgender rights. (+)

The Byrds – The Times They Are A-Changin’

The Byrds started in 1964 when Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn, and David Crosby came together with a mutual background in folk music. McGuinn had spent some time as a songwriter at the Brill Building, and Crosby was a substance abuse mentor for Barney Gumball.

The Byrds had a ton of reissues in 1995 and 96. (+)

Frank Black – I Don’t Want To Hurt You (Every Single Time)

Charles Thompson spent his time as a child hanging out in records stores, buying records of weird religious music, assorted 60’s stuff, and prog. After dropping out of college, Thompson formed Pixies in 1986 and changed his name to “Black Francis”. Tensions with bassist Kim Deal were almost immediate, and by 1993, Pixies were over.

Now we’re catching up with Black’s third solo album, The Cult of Ray, which had a lackluster reception. This song is pretty lackluster, not as interesting as anything off of Teenager of the Year, that’s for sure.

Pixies reformed in 2004, and by 2013 Black announced his solo career had been put to rest. (-)

Girls Against Boys – Super-Fire

Another band with 2 bassists, it’s been done! D.C.’s Girls Against Boys began in 1989  when Fugazi drummer / keyboardist Brendan Canty teamed up with recording engineer Eli Janney (who plays bass and keyboards) to create a studio project to explore sounds outside of the post-hardcore they were playing. Soon they brought in Soulside guitarist Scott McCloud. They had three songs fully formed before the end of the year. Then Canty was out, and the group brought in bassist Johnny Temple and drummer Alexis Fleisig (both also from Soulside), and they new lineup wrote three more songs. They put all six songs on their first EP, Eighties vs. Nineties, with the 1989 songs on one side, and the 1990 songs on the other.

In 1992 the band went on a national tour with Fugazi (synergy or nepotism?) and by December released their first full length album. 1994 was busy for the band as they toured with Jesus Lizard and on the second stage at Lollapalooza, and had a track on the Clerks Soundtrack (which was the first I had heard of them). Here, we catch up with them on their fourth album and last album for Touch And Go Records. After House of GSVB was released, the band toured Lollapalooza 96, then with Therapy? and Rage Against the Machine.

While Janney was embarking on a side job as a DJ and remixing Sneaker Pimps and Ruby, 1997 was spent being courted by major labels. They signed with Geffen Records and began recording for them in October 1997. We’ll put a pin in this for now, because we’ll see them again in 1998. (+)

(Two more things: I can’t help but think how hot this video shoot must’ve been every time I see it. Also, look at this full page ad in the magazine. They look like your step dad’s weed dealer, giving him mostly stems and seeds.)

Gigantic – Disenchanted

London’s Gigantic starts with London’s Flesh For Lulu. Flesh For Lulu was a post-punk / new wave band formed in 1982 that had some minor hits and signed with Capitol Records. By 1992, they were dropped from Capitol and split over musical differences. Singer / guitarist Nick Marsh and guitarist Rocco Barker formed Gigantic. They signed with Columbia and put out one album, Disenchanted, which was a commercial flop.  I didn’t save this one back then, and maybe I’m the barometer of why it failed. Today, I think it’s pretty ok.

The band was dropped and they split in 1998. Flesh For Lulu reformed in 2007, and Gigantic was re-released and re-packaged as a Flesh For Lulu album. The band split for good in 2015 when Marsh died of cancer. (+)

Underworld – Confusion The Waitress

Cardiff group Underworld started as a synth pop / funk group in the later 80’s, but by the 90’s had moved into dance / techno.  We’re catching up with them on their fourth album, Second Toughest In the Infants. I had a friend who was super into this, I was much less so (I like “Born Slippy” better). Today, I don’t think it’s too bad.

Underworld is still going. Discogs lists 40 some albums for them, so they must be doing something right. (+)

Gabor Csupo – Cadenza Hoof

You might’ve heard of Csupo. He founded animation studio Klasky Csupo (with his wife Arlene Klasky) and they produced a little seen show called The Simpsons (also Rugrats and Duckman, and many others). He’s also a musician who learned English from Frank Zappa records, and runs his own label Tone Casualties.

This comes from 1994’s Zombient Music. It kind of sounds like if John Carpenter were scoring one of those weird Chuck Jones’ Tom & Jerry cartoons… the ones where it was a bunch of weird congas and xylophones and shit. It’s not exactly easy to listen to, but I’m going to invoke the “spruce up a mix tape” clause. (+)

Too Much Joy – The Kids Don’t Understand

Too Much Joy formed in Westchester County, NY in 1987. By the time we’re catching up with them, they have already been signed to, and dropped from, Warner Bros. They have already been sued by Bozo the Clown for an unauthorized sample (“I found something in one of my pockets. It was about as big as your shoe, but it was shaped like a rocket!”). They have already spent the night in jail when they attempted to protest Florida’s arrest of 2 Live Crew on obscenity charges by performing a concert of 2 Live Crew covers. The singer has already been detained by the secret service for (jokingly) saying he wanted to strangle President Clinton.

While all of that is very interesting, it is more interesting than this song. I was going to write it off, but the more I listened to it, the better it sounded.

The group never officially broke up, but they pretty much went on permanent hiatus in 1997. In 2007 they recorded a one off Christmas single, then went dark again, until reforming in 2015. (+)

Joe Henry – Trampoline

I had all these jokes about “driving steel” and building the railroads, then I realized that was John Henry. Oh, well.

Henry is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and he happens to be Madonna’s brother in law… but I don’t think he was when he started out in 1986. Here we have a track from his sixth album, it’s kind of like a Great Value Bob Dylan.

Henry collaborated with Madonna on one song for each of her albums Confessions on a Dance Floor, Hard Candy, and MDNA. Somewhere along the way he has won 3 Grammys, and he scored the movie Knocked Up (with Loudin Wainwright III). (-)

Acetone – 99

L.A.’s Acetone was formed out of the ashes of Spinout, but its three core members. Richie Lee on vocals / bass, Mark Lightcap on guitar, and Steve Hadley on drums. Their album If You Only Knew came out on Vernon Yard, but then was picked up and re-released by Virgin, but then Virgin never flirted with the band again.

I didn’t save this back in the day, and I’m thinking, “what was wrong with past me?” As much as I dislike to give Pitchfork any credit, this description hits it right on the head: “They were too rootsy to be shoegazers, too woozy to be alt-country, too classic rock for slowcore, too casually Californian to be mere Velvet Underground revivalists.”

They signed with Neil Young’s Vapor Records after Vernon Yard declared bankruptcy, and they released two more records. Sadly, the band ended in 2001 when Lee committed suicide on July 23. (+)

Weapon Of Choice – Pair-A-Noids

You can find hundreds of examples of this: a band becomes so huge that a major label gives the band, or certain members, their own imprint. Sony Records gave Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam, Brad) and Regan Hagar (Brad, Malfunkshun) Loosegroove Records… although Loosegroove when independent in 1996. The label did give us albums by Brad, Malfunkshun, and Queens of the Stone Age. Then again, they also gave us this.

Weapon of Choice is fronted by Lonnie “Meganut” Marshall. He is the brother of Arik Marshall, who was the guitarist in Red Hot Chili Peppers when John Frusciante quit the first time, and last maybe a year. And just, please read what is in the disc insert for this nonsense:

This isn’t just terrible, it’s “terr-nut-ible”.

Apparently the band is still going, though they haven’t released anything since 2003. Loosegroove Records shuttered in 2000, but was revived by Gossard and Hagar in 2020. (-)

Bandit Queen – Miss Dandys

Manchester’s Bandit Queen was formed by 3 members of Swirl, and the singer /guitarist Tracy Godding was also a music journalist. Maybe she still is. I don’t know.

The band released 2 EPs, and then their debut Hormone Hotel… which turned out to be their only album. Guess extreme feminist indie rock wasn’t paying the bills! But seriously, they started a second album, but it was shelved and the band split in 1988. (+)

(The) Spinanes – Valency

Want to review the Spinanes? Well, we talked about them in #006.

This one comes from their 1995 album, Strand. It’s almost kind of twee-pop sounding, but the drums do a great job of propelling this forward. (+)

Joel R.L. Phelps – Ave Patricia    

Phelps is from Montana and cut his teeth in Silkworm before going solo in 1995.

There isn’t much to say, this is almost there. It’s a little too long, and if you put some pops and cracks on it, and had him sing through a tin can, people would eat that shit up.

He now records with The Downer Trio. (-)

Now It’s Time For Breakdown:

Worthy Tracks: 57.14% for this installment, 63.55 across the series.

Maple Leaf Invasion: 4.76% this week. 2.71% across the series.

YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: Cowboy Junkies, Spinanes, Idaho, and Cracker have joined the two-timer’s club. They are in company with Iggy Pop, The Coctails, Possum Dixon, Rocket From the Crypt, Pharcyde, Gene, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Echobelly, Ben Harper, Hum, Bracket, Guided By Voices, Chris Whitley, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Quicksand, Digable Planets, Adam Ant, Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, Cranes, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, G. Love & Special Sauce, Green Apple Quick Step, Letters To Cleo, Big Audio Dynamite, Eve’s Plum, Greta, Paul Weller, Radiohead, Ramones Stabbing Westward, Sister Machine Gun, and Superchunk. Thearpy? joins the three-peaters with Catherine Wheel, 700 Miles, and Matthew Sweet. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are the only group to appear four times. Over the 32 installments, there have been 553 unique artists.